In the past two games, Ohio State has struggled to prove itself as the top 15 team it has been ranked in the most recent AP poll.
Though the Buckeyes have finished the stretch with two victories, both proved more difficult than expected, with a 73-71 victory against Bucknell that came down to the final possession, and a 75-56 win against Youngstown State that had Ohio State down at halftime.
Bucknell and Youngstown State are ranked No. 180 and No. 319 in the KenPom team statistical rankings, respectively.
But the Buckeyes move forward as winners of 10 of their first 11 games, and head to a neutral-site matchup against UCLA in Chicago.
No. 15 Ohio State (10-1, 2-0 Big Ten)
G — C.J. Jackson — Senior, 12.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.7 apg
G — Luther Muhammad — Freshman, 8.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.1 apg
F — Kyle Young — Sophomore, 7.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.1 apg
F — Andre Wesson — Junior, 7.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.5 apg
F — Kaleb Wesson — Sophomore, 16.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.5 apg
G — Prince Ali — Redshirt junior, 10.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.5 apg
C — Moses Brown — Freshman, 11.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 0.5 apg
G — Jaylen Hands — Sophomore, 11.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 7.3 apg
F — Cody Riley — Redshirt freshman, 8.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.4 apg
G — Kris Wilkes — Sophomore, 17.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.5 apg
The Bruins come in losers of their past two games, with a 74-72 defeat to Belmont, who is 9-1 to start the season, and a 29-point loss against Cincinnati.
Ohio State defeated the Bearcats 64-56 for its second win of the season.
Sophomore guard Kris Wilkes leads UCLA with 17.7 points per game, shooting 46.4 percent and 35.3 percent from 3. He is one of four Bruins players scoring in double figures.
Seven-foot-1, 245-pound freshman center Moses Brown averages a team-leading 9.4 rebounds per game, 3.9 on the offensive glass, and 11.8 points while connecting on 66.7 percent of his shots. But Brown struggles on the free-throw line, making 14-of-37 attempts from the charity stripe, a 37.8 percent success rate.
UCLA, as a whole, has had difficulty making its free throws, shooting 61.9 percent from the line, No. 333 in the NCAA.
The Bruins have lost both neutral-site games this season, which have both been played against ranked opponents. During the Las Vegas Invitational, UCLA lost to both North Carolina and Michigan State by 16 points or more. The Tar Heels and Spartans now rank No. 9 and No. 10 in the AP poll, respectively.
In the 10 all-time matchups between UCLA and Ohio State, the Bruins have won six, including the previous five games between the teams. The most recent matchup came on Dec. 17, 2016, where UCLA defeated Ohio State 86-73 in Las Vegas.
All seven of the Bruins’ wins this season have came at home.
No. 15 Ohio State faces off against UCLA in the United Center in Chicago at 3 p.m. on Saturday.